Black Lives Matter – The Removal of Statues

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

The removal of statues can be seen as a move of progress and a powerful symbol of the rebellion from the Black lives matter movement. The statues represent an unjust system and oppressing time for black people, and it is no wonder people want the statues removed. Who wants to be reminded of the men who partook in slavery every time they walk past a statue? 

The taking down of Edward Colston in Bristol may not have been the most convenient to the government but was an important move as a part of the change that needs to be made. Colston was a slave trader who transported millions of Africans of Bristol the epicentre of slave trading. However, this is only the beginning. Statues in other places in the world have been taken down, such as King Leopold II, who was responsible for the enslavement of Congo and known for the atrocities under his rule; his statue was finally taken down after many petitions to remove the statue. It says something if it took this long for people to realise that statues who represent slavery should not be present. Especially in a society that claims it is not racist and is trying to change.

The statues glorify these men of history, their past and their actions.  It is enough that they are a part of history and will be remembered, but to have their statues is to praise and celebrate what they have done, and this can no longer be condoned. Boris Johnson tries to argue that these men did good, but the bad overweighs the good. No one remembers the ‘good’ Hitler did; he is only remembered for the Holocaust in the same way these men are only really remembered for slavery and pain. Johnson has made it clear that he does not agree with the tearing down of statues, stating that ‘we cannot edit or censor our past …the statues[….] were put up by previous generations, they had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong”. No one said we had to stop talking about these figures of the past, instead, the tearing down of the controversial statues indicates a significant need to talk more about colonialism and how this country was built and founded on it. Considering history is taught so that you stop repeating the same mistakes, this is a start to correcting unjust history.

It is quite ironic that Boris Johnson says we cannot censor or hide our past when this is exactly what is done. It is known that records have been burnt before in an attempt to stop people from recalling the atrocities that the British have committed.  The prime minister reminds us that ‘there are legal pro-democratic processes’ for removing statues, but petitions and arguments over why we still have slave trader statues around in the year 2020 have been dismissed. 

Tearing down these statues is acknowledging that perspective has changed and that what these statues were built to praise was wrong and what they stand for this country does not,  It shows the progress people have made as a society. For the prime minister to come to the defense of the controversial statues only goes to show how this country has not changed as much as we thought it had.

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